On January 3, the DPRK unilaterally reconnected the
military hotline between itself and the ROK at Panmunjom to facilitate
the holding of talks between the two governments.
January 9, the second military hotline
located near the West Sea was reactivated as a result of agreements
reached at the talks in Panmunjom.
This second hotline was previously used in part to
identity and guarantee the safety of Korean from north and south moving
across the border at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in
south Korea while the DPRK was taking part in projects there.
The two channels for direct dialogue between
military authorities of the two Koreas were severed in February
President of ROK Holds New Year Press Conference
The lives of the people need to be stabilized through the settlement of peace on the Korean Peninsula. There should never be another war on the Korean Peninsula. The ultimate goal of our diplomacy and national defence is to prevent a war from recurring on the Peninsula. I do not want the immediate unification of the Korean Peninsula. My goal is to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue and solidify peace while I am in office.
The people who set the country right serve as a
stone or a milestone in diplomacy and national security. They are
the source of power that will bring peace to the Korean
Peninsula. Last year, relying on that power, I was able to
consistently proclaim the principles of peace on the Korean
Peninsula to the four major powers involved in issues related to
the Peninsula and the rest of the international community. As a
middle power standing tall in the international community, the
Korean government was able to announce the New Northern Policy
and the New Southern Policy. I was also able to continue to
stress the need for dialogue in inter-Korean relations.
A senior-level dialogue between the two Koreas was held yesterday. An inter-Korean communication that was once severed has been restored. North Korea agreed to participate in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. U.S. President Donald Trump said he supported the inter-Korean dialogue and the fostering of a peaceful atmosphere through the PyeongChang Olympics. The postponement of the Korea-U.S. joint military drill was also agreed to.
It is only a beginning. We have to successfully host the PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. We need to strive until the end to make it an Olympics of peace. Furthermore, we have to solve the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully. We have to make it a turning point toward an improvement in inter-Korean relations and peace on the Korean Peninsula.
I will do my best to make this year a new start for peace on the Korean Peninsula. In the process, I will more closely cooperate with related countries, including our ally the United States, China and Japan, and the rest of the international community.
If peace begins in PyeongChang, I will turn it into a stable system that takes root. To solve the North Korean nuclear issue and settle peace, I will pursue more dialogue and cooperative projects.
I stress once again; the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a process toward peace and a goal at the same time. The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which was declared by the two Koreas, is our fundamental position that can never be compromised.
I will light a candle of peace on the Korean
will remove the anxiety and distrust that are deeply embedded in
the individual lives of the people. I will take a step forward
along with the people in an effort to help create an everyday
life that is peaceful and safe, and with no worry over war.
(Photos: agencies, Hankyoreh. English translations edited slightly for grammar and clarity by TML.)
On January 12, seventeen countries, including
Canada and the United States, signed a statement indicating that they
to enforce UN Security Council Resolutions 2375 and 2397 against the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). These enforcement
measures include interdicting and inspecting ships suspected to be
trading with the DPRK in materials prohibited under UN Security Council
sanctions, based on "information that
provides reasonable grounds."
The prohibited materials include oil and
textiles, showing that in fact the measures being taken conform to a
type of selective naval blockade aimed at strangling the DPRK.
The group of 17 "enforcers" -- undoubtedly marshalled by the U.S. which
introduced Resolutions 2375 and 2397 at the UN -- claim their
inspections will be done with the consent of the state under whose flag
the targeted vessels are operating.
The countries involved justify their actions based on the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) framework that allegedly "prevents the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction" put forward in September 2003 by then-U.S. President George W. Bush six months after the U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq based on the fraud that it was doing so to stop Iraq's development and use of weapons of mass destruction. A total of 105 countries signed the initiative in 2003.
The January 12 "joint statement" says, "As
states of the United Nations and as PSI-endorsing states, it is
our responsibility to implement [United Nations Security
Council Resolution (UNSCR)] obligations fully."
The statement cites the following seven measures to be taken:
"Inspect proliferation-related shipments on vessels with the consent of the flag State, on the high seas, if we have information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that the cargo of such vessels contains items prohibited under UNSCRs concerning the DPRK.
"If there are reasonable grounds to believe that the cargo on a vessel flagged by one of our countries is prohibited for export to or from the DPRK under relevant UNSCRs, cooperate with inspections pursuant to the commitment above.
"If we, as flag States, do not consent to inspection on the high seas, we will direct the vessel to proceed to an appropriate and convenient port for required inspection.
"Direct our flagged vessels to a port in coordination with the port State when requested; and deflag any of our flagged vessels designated by the 1718 Committee [UN Sanctions Committee 1718 overseeing the enforcement of Security Council Sanctions regarding the DPRK -- TML Ed Note].
"Prohibit our nationals, persons subject to our jurisdiction, entities incorporated in our territory or subject to our jurisdiction, and vessels flying our flag, from facilitating or engaging in ship-to-ship transfers to or from DPRK-flagged vessels of any goods or items that are being supplied, sold, or transferred to or from the DPRK.
"Redouble efforts to implement in full the measures in relevant UN Security Council Resolutions with respect to inspecting, detecting, and seizing items the transfer of which is prohibited by those resolutions.
"Seize and dispose of (such as through destruction, rendering inoperable or unusable, storage, or transferring to a State other than the originating or destination States for disposal) items the supply, sale, transfer, or export of which is prohibited by relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and consistent with other international obligations."
The statement calls on all UN member states to follow the lead of its 17 signatories stating, "We call on all UN Member States to enforce all elements of applicable UN Security Council Resolutions. Given our concerted efforts to build our capacities and resolve to act to interdict WMD and related materials, we stand united in our determination to prevent the DPRK from acquiring nuclear and ballistic missile-related technologies, and from engaging in prohibited activities that generate revenue for its illicit WMD program. As PSI endorsing States we remain strongly committed to WMD counter-proliferation, including supporting and enforcing UNSCRs 2375, 2397, and all other DPRK-related UN Security Council Resolutions."
There have been a number of reports during the week of
January 8 that Japan, one of the PSI "Partners" that signed the joint
statement, has been deploying its military ships and aircraft in and
over waters around the Korean Peninsula, monitoring the movement of
ships, taking photographs and collecting other data on the DPRK’s naval
trade, which is declared "illicit" as a result of sanctions. This is
then sent to the U.S. military showing how the UN Security Council is
being sidestepped by the U.S. as it seeks to enforce that body's
Reports indicate that the U.S. is preoccupied with completely choking off the DPRK, claiming that "China and Russia" are refusing to cut off shipments of goods as required under the UN sanctions pushed by the U.S.
Sections of the U.S. ruling circles see a naval
blockade as an "alternative method" to force the DPRK and its people to
submit. Retired U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Gregory Neeley states in
a December 31 opinion piece in Fox News that "The naval blockade is not
a new concept, and historically has enjoyed significant success. From
the British Royal Navy blockade of the First French Empire during the
Napoleonic war to the 1962 U.S. blockade of Cuba, which effectively
ended Soviet attempts to establish missile bases on the Caribbean
island, blockades have proven effective. Short of direct military
action, a multi-national naval blockade of North Korea is not only
palatable; it may be the only alternative."
In discussing how
this would work, Neeley outlines what he says are the options on the
1) direct military attack;
2) acceptance of DPRK's right to nuclear weapons; and
3) the third and best option -- a naval blockade. Without a blockade, "where every ship in the vicinity of North Korea is boarded, searched, and if necessary impounded, it will be impossible to entirely close the oil lifeline spigot."
"Like sanctions," he writes, "blockades are designed to slowly choke the recalcitrant nation to submission. Unlike sanctions, a blockade provides the capability to monitor, intercept and enforce restrictions on what can go in and out of the target nation while providing a powerful psychological and diplomatic instrument. A naval blockade in the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea would prevent North Korea from obtaining essential raw materials and equipment, including refined petroleum and military spare parts. A naval blockade also serves to choke export income, in this case the lucrative coal and iron exports the regime needs to quite literally keep the lights on.
"The United States need not act unilaterally and carry the entire weight of a blockade of North Korea. U.S. allies in the region would support the initiative. Key players in this effort would be Japan and Australia, with support likely from Singapore, South Korea, India, Taiwan and potentially NATO forces.
"The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, boasts the fifth most powerful navy in the world with one of the largest economic exclusion zones to patrol. Their destroyers and frigates are modern and equipped with the Aegis combat system.
"Australia, another island nation in the Pacific, is
country to have supported the United States in every military
conflict since World War One. The [Royal Australian Navy (RAN)] is
built for coastal
operations, with shallow water diesel-electric submarines,
helicopter landing ships, frigates, and the Armidale class patrol
boat, one of the most effective littoral combat platforms in the
world. I served with the RAN during the early 2000's blockade of
illegal alien vessels. It proved a tremendously effective 'reverse
blockade' of the Australian coast."
1. These 17 nations which refer to themselves as "Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) Partners in Support of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2375 and 2397 Enforcement" are Canada, the United States, Australia, Argentina, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, south Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Singapore and Britain.
(Asian News International)
are leading a women's peace delegation to Vancouver to "ensure
that civil-society perspectives are included in the official
talks" of the January 16 Vancouver Meeting. The participating
organizations are: Women Cross DMZ,
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, the Nobel Women's
Initiative, the United Church of Canada and the Women's
International League for Peace and Freedom. The
delegation will hold its own activities coinciding with the forum
and has also requested to participate in the official
"The objective of the women's peace delegation is to urge the Foreign Ministers to prepare the table for a diplomatic peace process that moves away from war and increased militarization, and towards peace, reconciliation, and genuine security. Through the Vancouver Women's Forum and other actions, the women delegates will remind government leaders of overwhelming global public opinion that favours a peaceful diplomatic resolution as the only option on the table for resolving the Korean crisis. The outcome of the official summit must support the recent breakthroughs in inter-Korean rapprochement, not derail it. [...]
"At this momentous juncture in Vancouver, the international women's peace delegation will call upon the Foreign Ministers to pursue a comprehensive and lasting resolution to the longstanding conflict. They will share their experience, knowledge, and wisdom garnered from their efforts working towards achieving peace and genuine security on the Korean Peninsula. Drawing upon their collective expertise on militarism, nuclear disarmament, economic sanctions, and the human, social, and ecological costs of the unresolved 65-year Korean War, the delegation will recommend steps that can ensure a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
"While the Foreign Ministers represent most nations of the UN Command that fought and provided humanitarian assistance during the 1950-53 Korean War, the delegates represent a wide range of civil-society organizations and social movements in South Korea, Japan, Guam, Sweden, United States, Canada, and globally."
Representatives of the organizations participating had the following to say:
"Research shows that women's inclusion in peace processes not only yields actual peace agreements, but also more durable ones," said Christine Ahn, International Coordinator of Women Cross DMZ, a global movement of women mobilizing to end the Korean War. "A peaceful and diplomatic solution to the Korean conflict is the only acceptable path forward. It is possible, but it requires all the best thinking, expertise and perspectives. This must include the women and civil society movements that have been left out of these discussions to date."
"Many of the women in our delegation have been to North Korea; most of the Ministers meeting in Vancouver have not. North Koreans are not invited to attend, so it is essential to include in the talks those who have been on the ground in North Korea, who have seen the cost to ordinary people, and who bring a human element to a very human reality," said Lee Moon Sook, Vice-chairperson of the Reconciliation and Reunification Committee, National Council of Churches in Korea.
"Sanctions are often characterized as a peaceful alternative to military action, but they are in fact incredibly damaging to the people of the country who feel the suffering directly in their daily lives," said Ewa Eriksson Fortier, who was previously Head of Country Delegation in Pyongyang, Democratic People's Republic of Korea for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and has since returned for several country visits.
"Just last November, we welcomed the Canadian government's announcement of Canada's National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, a key element in Canada's Feminist International Assistance Policy. This is a crucial test of whether or not that Plan is more than a piece of paper," said Patti Talbot, Chair, Global Partnerships, the United Church of Canada. "We are encouraged by Canada's leadership in co-convening these talks. We now look to our government to make good on their word about our country's feminist foreign policy."
For Your Information
The sanctions adopted against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) by the United Nations at the instigation of the United States are more than sanctions. They are the basis for a blockade of the DPRK, which has called them "an act of war."
Economic sanctions are commercial and financial penalties applied by one or more countries against a targeted country, group, or individual. Economic sanctions may include various forms of trade barriers, tariffs, and restrictions on financial transactions. An embargo is similar, but usually implies more severe sanctions.
Economic sanctions are not necessarily imposed because of economic circumstances; they can be imposed for a variety of political, military and social reasons. They can be used for achieving domestic and international purposes.
What typifies a "blockade" is that it pursues the isolation, asphyxiation and immobility of the targeted country, for the perverse purpose of suffocating its people and making it cease to affirm its right to be sovereign and independent. The cardinal elements of the concept of "blockade" are to cut off, close, disconnect from the outside to achieve the surrender of the besieged entity by force or through hunger.
Since the 1909 London Naval Conference, it is an accepted principle in international law that a blockade is an act of war. As such, its use is only permissible between belligerents. There is no rule of international law to justify a so-called peaceful blockade, which refers to a practice of the colonial powers of the 19th century and early 20th century. In 1916 the United States government itself warned France: "The United States does not recognize that right of any foreign power to obstruct the exercise of commercial rights of non-interested countries, resorting to blockade when there is no state of war."
And here we get
to the crux
of the matter. The
countries which fought in Korea in the 1950-53 war under the UN
flag did so to achieve the surrender of the DPRK. They were
forced to sign an armistice agreement instead when they were not
able to take over all of Korea. After signing the Armistice Agreement,
the U.S. has not respected its terms, including its ultimate aim of
concluding a peace treaty with the DPRK.
The U.S. first initiated economic sanctions against the DPRK in 1950 under the Trading with the Enemy Act. In a 1997 review of U.S. extra-territorial sanctions in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Economic Law, Harry L. Clark wrote that "re-export sanctions against North Korea generally mirrored those of Cuba." (Re-export provisions forbid non-U.S. persons from exporting items of U.S. origin or that contain U.S. content from third countries to sanctioned destinations.) At the time, the U.S. had just tightened its blockade of Cuba with new extraterritorial provisions under the 1996 Helms-Burton Act.
The Indictment for Offenses Committed by the U.S. Government Against the People of Korea 1945-2001 prepared for the Korea International War Crimes Tribunal held in New York City on June 23, 2001 stated in reference to the period from July 1953 to 2001: "The U.S. government forced the imposition of severe economic sanctions on Korea, enforced by blockade and the coercion of other nations and states that were calculated to and did in fact impoverish and debilitate the people of northern Korea damaging the people, the economy, depriving them of essential medicines, medical supplies, safe drinking water, food and other necessities, destroying their lives in major part, committing a genocidal crime against humanity.
"The United States government, by imposing sanctions, a blockade, economic coercion on other nations and parties, undermined the health and endurance of the people of northern Korea, used the deprivation of food as a weapon, forcing hunger, malnutrition and starvation that took hundreds of thousands of lives."
The Indictment provided the following details:
".... Economic interference by the U.S. and a devastating blockade calculated to create conditions to destroy a major part of the northern Korean population, radically reduce available food, medicines, health care and medical capacities causing widespread malnutrition, weakening of the population, increasing susceptibility to diseases, illnesses and epidemics. Chronic food shortages, hunger and periodic famine contribute to a reduced life expectancy of more than six years in the 1990s. Among children under 5 years of age the death rate increased from 27 per 1,000 live births to 48 per 1,000 or 77 per cent, and among infants from 14 to 22.5 per 1,000 live births or 60 per cent. The percentage of the population with safe drinking water has dropped 30 per cent in recent years. Vaccination coverage for diseases like polio and measles fell 40 per cent between 1990 and 1997. Dysentery, iodine deficiency and vitamin deficiency are among many serious health problems for children. Per capita income in the north dropped from $991 U.S per year in 1991 to $457 U.S. in 1999. All these figures were reported by A.P on May 15, 2001. Over this period of 48 years, unlawful U.S. policies and actions have caused many hundreds of thousands of deaths in Korea leaving it to be one of the most isolated and impoverished nations, as a result of external forces, on earth. [...]"
In June 2008 the U.S. removed the DPRK from application of the Trading with the Enemy Act and from its "state sponsor of terrorism" list. However it left other sanctions in place and continued to add more under the International Emergency Powers Act and the National Emergencies Act and other legislation. NBC News reported in 2008 that President George W. Bush said the changes made would have little impact on the DPRK's financial and diplomatic isolation and that "it will remain one of the most heavily sanctioned nations in the world."
UN Security Council sanctions against the DPRK were
first adopted in 2006 after that country's first nuclear test. They
targeted individuals and entities engaged in activities deemed to be
directly or indirectly involved with aspects of its nuclear program,
said to be prohibited. These sanctions were stepped up numerous times
over the years, with those adopted on December 22, 2017 at the behest
of the U.S. and passed unanimously by the Security Council, being the
They include a 90 per cent reduction in the amount of oil that the DPRK can import as compared to 2016, and impose ruthless restrictions on the export of food and agricultural products, machinery, electrical equipment, earth and stone, including magnesite and magnesia, wood and vessels, besides affecting companies, that do business with and in the DPRK, many of them Chinese. Sanctions imposed earlier in 2017 already banned DPRK from exporting coal, iron and iron ore as well as textiles. According to Reuters, coal and other minerals were the DPRK's biggest export in 2016 and textiles its second biggest, with 80 per cent of textile exports going to China. New regulations introduce targeted sanctions against 15 DPRK officials and call for the repatriation of the DPRK's citizens working in other countries within the next 24 months. This will cut off a vital source of income for many families. The sanctions passed in November 2016 also include restrictions on the export of art from the DPRK, in particular the export of statues, for which the Koreans are world-renowned.
All of this is justified by the anti-communist assertion
that the regime in the DPRK uses the income it manages to bring into
the country through trade and remittances to proliferate nuclear
weapons, not to feed its people.
The UN Commission on Human Rights' Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights at its 52nd session passed Resolution 1997/35 on August 28,1997, entitled Adverse consequences of economic sanctions on the enjoyment of human rights. The Sub-Commission expressed its concerns about economic sanctions by framing them in the light of the need to respect the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the two Additional Protocols thereto. The Sub-Commission stressed four particular points concerning such measures:
(i) They should always be limited in time, (fourth preambular paragraph);
(ii) They most seriously affect the innocent population, especially the most vulnerable (fifth preambular paragraph);
(iii) They aggravate imbalances in income distribution
preambular paragraph); and
(iv) They generate illegal and unethical business practices (seventh preambular paragraph).
An impartial reading of the Six-Prong Test to evaluate
sanctions contained in The Bossuyt Report produced by the UN
Economic and Social Council in
response to the Sub-Commission's resolution titled: The Adverse
Consequences of Economic Sanctions (see item below),
sanctions against the DPRK are not only illegal, but indeed
an act of war. They are not imposed for legitimate reasons since the
danger to world peace is not posed by the DPRK's
nuclear tests, which are self-defence measures, but by the U.S.
striving to dominate the Korean Peninsula and its threats of war
and refusal to permit the DPRK to develop its own way of life in
peace. In other words, they are motivated by a self-serving
political agenda and this is a violation of international law.
They also violate humanitarian law. Depriving a people of 90 per
cent of its oil necessarily affects every aspect of life, of
food production, industrialization and the health and safety of
1. To see the content of the existing UN Security Council sanctions targeting the DPRK which were first established in 2006 and expanded since, click here.
The following extracts from The Bossuyt Report: The
Sanctions, UN Economic and Social
Council, 2000, include
a summary of sanction basics, limitations on sanctions under
international law, the Six-Prong Test, and the case study of sanctions
imposed on Iraq.
9. Sanctions represent a middle ground in international politics, being more severe than mere verbal condemnation, but less severe than the use of force. In accordance with Article 41 of the Charter of the United Nations, within the United Nations, authority to impose sanctions lies exclusively with the Security Council. Regional organizations are authorized under Article 52 to "achieve pacific settlement of local disputes" without express permission of the Security Council, "provided that ... their activities are consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations".
10. In practice, sanctions have comprised a wide range of actions, from economic embargoes to restrictions on participation in the Olympic Games. There follows a brief classification of sanctions: economic, travel, military, diplomatic or cultural.
1. Economic sanctions
11. There are two basic kinds of economic sanctions: trade sanctions and financial sanctions.
(a) Trade sanctions
12. Trade sanctions restrict imports and exports to and from the target country. These restrictions can be comprehensive, as in the case of Iraq, or they can be selective, only restricting certain goods often connected with a trade dispute. Comprehensive trade sanctions are the target of the current criticism of sanctions regimes, because of the humanitarian crises that have erupted in countries against which such sanctions have been imposed.
(b) Financial sanctions
13. Financial sanctions address monetary issues. They can include, as has been addressed at the Interlaken Conferences, blocking government assets held abroad, limiting access to financial markets and restricting loans and credits, restricting international transfer payments and restricting the sale and trade of property abroad. The freezing of development aid also falls into this category. Obviously, there is substantial overlap between financial and trade sanctions, especially when applied comprehensively, since with their foreign assets frozen and access to new funds blocked, Governments will be unable to pay for imports, and trade will suffer.
2. Other types of sanctions
(a) Travel sanctions
14. Travel sanctions can include both sanctions against
travel of certain individuals or groups and sanctions against
certain kinds of air transport. The first kind is by nature
targeted, as lists of people or groups of people are compiled who
are not allowed to leave their country. This type of ban has been
imposed on Governments, such as against members of the military
junta in Sierra Leone in 1998, and also against non-governmental
groups, such as the leaders of the National Union for the Total
Independence of Angola (UNITA) in 1997. Bans on certain types of
air travel include the current ban on taking off or landing of
any aircraft owned, leased or operated by or on behalf of the
Taliban, established by the Security Council in its resolution
(b) Military sanctions
15. Military sanctions may include arms embargoes or the termination of military assistance or training. They are also inherently "targeted", as, domestically, only the armed forces feel their impact. Legal problems may arise, however, when a country's right to self-defence is infringed, as many States subject to arms embargoes have argued.
(c) Diplomatic sanctions
16. Diplomatic sanctions directly target the rulers of a sanctioned State: diplomats and political leaders may have their visas revoked and may be forbidden to participate in international bodies and organizations. The refusal of the United Nations to allow the participation of the apartheid Government of South Africa in its operations is an example of this type of sanction. Other steps towards diplomatic isolation include the withdrawal of diplomatic personnel and international organizations from the target country.
(d) Cultural sanctions
17. Finally, cultural sanctions, while having less of a negative impact than other forms of sanctions, can still have undesired results. The athletes of the target nation may be banned from international sports competitions, folk dancers, musicians and other artists may also be banned and restrictions may be placed on educational and tourist travel.
18. The most important implication of international law, especially human rights and humanitarian law, for sanctions is that the right to impose sanctions is not unlimited. Thus, an examination of the standards of international law relevant to sanctions involves looking for the limitations to sanctions inherent in the general operation of international law.
A. Sanctions and the Charter of the United Nations: Legitimation and Limitation
19. Article 39 of the Charter of the United Nations allows the Security Council to take measures such as sanctions only to "maintain or restore international peace and security" following its determination that there exists a threat to or breach of the peace, or an act of aggression. Thus, sanctions may only be imposed upon a Government, "quasi-Government" or other entity that is capable of being a threat to international peace or security or that is in fact threatening international peace and security. While armed groups within a country may pose a threat to international peace and security, a generally unarmed civilian population is, in all likelihood, unable to pose such a threat. Other States not presenting a threat to, or actually breaching, peace and security must not be affected by sanctions imposed on the violating State.
20. Furthermore, the "threat" may not be determined on the basis of ulterior political motives -- there must be genuine "international concern" behind the sanctions, not the foreign or domestic policy considerations of a single State or group of States.
21. Sanctions may not be imposed to secure any of the
Purposes and Principles of the United Nations as set out in
Article 1 of the Charter, unless there is a credible
determination of a threat to or a breach of the peace or an act
22. In addition to these limitations, other provisions that would limit sanctions are found throughout the Charter.
1. Limitations implied by Article 24
23. Article 24 requires the Security Council to "act in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations". Thus, no act of the Security Council is exempt from scrutiny as to whether or not that act is in conformity with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations.
2. Limitations implied by Article 1
24. Article 1, paragraph 1, requires that sanctions or other measures undertaken to maintain international peace and security must be "effective" and must be "in conformity with the principles of justice and international law". Sanctions must be evaluated to ensure that they are not unjust or that they do not in any way violate principles of international law stemming from sources "outside" the Charter. Likewise, sanctions must be constantly reviewed to ascertain whether or not they are effective in maintaining peace and security. Ineffective or unjust sanctions or those that violate other norms of international law may not be imposed, or must be lifted if they have been imposed.
25. Article 1, paragraph 2, requires that sanctions or other measures "respect the principle of equal rights and the self-determination of peoples". Sanctions that cause international dissention, that interfere with a State's legal rights, or that unduly affect a people's right to self-determination may not be imposed or must be lifted if imposed.
26. The United Nations purpose of promoting and encouraging respect for human rights set out in article 1, paragraph 3, necessarily limits sanctions. Article 1, paragraph 3, also requires the United Nations to solve issues of a pressing humanitarian nature, not to cause them. Sanctions, therefore, must not result in undue hardships for the people of a country. Sanctions that directly or indirectly cause deaths would be a violation of the right to life. Other human rights could also be violated by sanctions regimes, such as the rights to security of the person, health, education or employment.
27. Article 1, paragraph 4, requires that sanctions or other measures facilitate the harmonization of national or international action. Sanctions imposed on one country but not on another for the same wrongs would violate this requirement of harmonization. Sanctions imposed unequally on two countries for the same wrongs would also violate the harmony provision.
3. Limitations implied by Article 55
28. Article 55 of the Charter reinforces the limitations of article 1, paragraph 3, in its requirement that the United Nations promote:
Higher standards of living and economic and social progress (para. a);
Solutions to international economic, social, health and other problems (para. b); and
Respect for and observance of human rights (para. c).
Sanctions regimes that lower economic standards, create
health problems or are detrimental to the observance of human
rights would violate Article 55.
41. The above-listed limitations to sanctions allow the extrapolation of a six-prong test to evaluate sanctions.
1. Are the sanctions imposed for valid reasons?
42. Sanctions under the United Nations must be imposed only when there is a threat of or actual breach of international peace and security. Sanctions may not be imposed for invalid political reasons (personal grudges, "East-West" or "North-South" politics, "left-right" politics and the like). Sanctions may not arise from or produce an economic benefit for one State or group of States at the expense of the sanctioned State or other States. Sanctions may not result in undue interference with a State's sovereignty rights under international law.
2. Do the sanctions target the proper parties?
43. Sanctions may not target civilians who are
with the threat to peace or international security. Sanctions
that would result in an abrogation of Geneva Convention rights
are void; there can be no effective, presumed or actual waiver of
these rights. Sanctions may not target, or result in collateral
damage to, "third party" States or peoples.
3. Do the sanctions target the proper goods or objects?
44. Sanctions may not interfere with the free flow of humanitarian goods under the Geneva Conventions and other provisions of humanitarian law. Sanctions may not target goods needed to ensure the basic subsistence of the civilian population (food, drinking water, basic medicines and immunizations), regardless of whether there is an armed conflict. Sanctions may not target essential medical provisions or educational materials of any kind. Even if a target is otherwise legal, the target must still have a reasonable relationship to the threat of or actual breach of peace and international security.
4. Are the sanctions reasonably time-limited?
45. Legal sanctions may become illegal when they have been applied for too long without meaningful results. Sanctions that continue for too long can have a negative effect long after the wrong ceases (the so-called "undue future burden" effect). Sanctions that go on too long may also be viewed as ineffective.
5. Are the sanctions effective?
46. Sanctions must be reasonably capable of achieving a desired result in terms of threat or actual breach of international peace and security. Sanctions that are targeted in ways that would not affect the wrongs may be viewed as ineffective.
6. Are the sanctions free from protest arising from violations of the "principles of humanity and the dictates of the public conscience"?
59. The sanctions against Iraq are the most comprehensive, total sanctions that have ever been imposed on a country. The situation at present is extremely grave. The transportation, power and communication infrastructures were decimated during the Gulf war, and have not been rebuilt owing to the sanctions. The industrial sector is also in shambles and agricultural production has suffered greatly. But most alarming is the health crisis that has erupted since the imposition of the sanctions.
1. Implementation of sanctions
60. The Security Council imposed multilateral comprehensive economic sanctions in its resolution 661 (1990) of 6 August 1990. Under the sanctions all imports and exports to and from Iraq were banned, exemptions being allowed for supplies intended strictly for medical purposes and, in certain circumstances, foodstuffs. The Security Council imposed marine and air blockades in its resolutions 665 (1990) and 670 (1990).
61. Following the Gulf war, the Security Council, in its resolution 687 (1991) authorized the continuation of sanctions, with the same humanitarian caveats. The Sanctions Committee was authorized to permit imports of petroleum originating from Iraq, in order to enable Iraq to pay for imports of foodstuffs, medicines and essential civilian supplies. In resolution 687 (1991), the Security Council also imposed a comprehensive arms embargo and established a technical commission of experts (UNSCOM) to monitor and destroy the weapons of mass destruction of Iraq.
62. In 1991, the Council adopted resolutions 706 (1991) and 712 (1991), authorizing the sale of up to $1.6 billion worth of petroleum and petroleum products by Iraq each six months. The resolutions were never implemented and it was not until 1996 that the "oil-for-food programme" came into effect. Resolution 986 (1995) permitted the sale of $2 billion of Iraqi oil over 180 days, the proceeds from which were to be placed in a United Nations-controlled bank account. Of the revenues from the sale, however, only about half ended up going towards the purchase of humanitarian goods, the majority of the rest going towards reparations and administrative costs. This resolution was implemented with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Secretariat and the Government of Iraq on 20 May 1996. The programme went into effect 10 December 1996. Although it was conceived of as a temporary measure, the "oil-for-food" scheme is still in effect, having been extended several times. The amount Iraq is allowed to sell was increased considerably in resolution 1153 (1998), and the cap was dropped altogether in December 1999 in resolution 1284 (1999). More money has also been allowed for the repair of Iraq's greatly damaged oil industry. However, this mitigation of the sanctions is in no way a solution to the crisis; as the United Nations Secretary-General stated in March 2000, "Even if it [the oil-for-food programme] is implemented perfectly, it is possible that our efforts will prove insufficient to satisfy the population's needs".
2. Effects on civilians
63. As has been documented by United Nations agencies, NGOs, humanitarian and human rights organizations, researchers and political leaders, the sanctions upon Iraq have produced a humanitarian disaster comparable to the worst catastrophes of the past decades. There is broad controversy and little hard evidence concerning the exact number of deaths directly attributable to the sanctions; estimates range from half a million to a million and a half, with the majority of the dead being children. It should be emphasized that much of the controversy around the number of deaths is only serving to obfuscate the fact that any deaths at all caused by the sanctions regime indicate grave breaches of humanitarian law and are unacceptable.
64. In 1999, after conducting the first surveys since
child and maternal mortality in Iraq, UNICEF concluded that in
the heavily-populated southern and central parts of the country,
children under five are dying at more than twice the rate they
were 10 years ago. An expert on the effects of sanctions on
civilians states that "the underlying causes of these excess
deaths include contaminated water, lack of high quality foods,
inadequate breastfeeding, poor weaning practices, and inadequate
supplies in the curative health-care system". The lack of
food due to sanctions translated into a 32 per cent drop in per
capita calorie intake compared to before the Gulf war.
According to the Government of Iraq, by 1997, only half of the
water treatment capacity of the country was operational.
65. Owing to the lack of medical supplies, it was estimated that, by 1997, 30 per cent of hospital beds were out of use, 75 per cent of all hospital equipment did not work and 25 per cent of Iraq's 1,305 health centres were closed. A recent Security Council-appointed panel summarized the health and sanitation situation as follows:
"In marked contrast to the prevailing situation prior to the events of 1990-1991, the infant mortality rates in Iraq today are among the highest in the world, low infant birth weight affects at least 23 per cent of all births, chronic malnutrition affects every fourth child under five years of age, only 41 per cent of the population have regular access to clean water, 83 per cent of all schools need substantial repairs. The [International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)] states that the Iraqi health-care system is today in a decrepit state. UNDP calculates that it would take 7 billion U.S. dollars to rehabilitate the power sector country-wide to its 1990 capacity."
66. Although some note a slow improvement in health and nutrition indicators since 1997, the disaster and deaths continue, and even as recently as March 2000, the Secretary-General expressed particular concern for the plight of Iraqi children.
67. The health crisis in Iraq is intertwined with the general social and economic crises which the sanctions have prompted. Even if the deaths were to cease as the result of humanitarian exemptions (as the Secretary-General and others deem impossible), there would still be massive, systematic violations of Iraqi citizens' other rights attributable to the sanctions. The economic, social and cultural rights of the Iraqi people are being swept aside, as are their rights to development and to education. For example, the purchasing power of an Iraqi salary by the mid-1990s was about 5 per cent of its value prior to 1990 and, as the United Nations Development Programme field office recognized, "the country has experienced a shift from relative affluence to massive poverty". The previous advances in education and literacy have been completely reversed over the past 10 years. As Denis Halliday, former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, declared after his resignation in September 1998, "sanctions have had a serious impact on the Iraqi extended family system. We're seeing an increase in single-parent families, usually mothers struggling alone. There's an increase in divorce. Many families have had to sell their homes, furniture and other possessions to put food on the table, resulting in homelessness. Many young people are resorting to prostitution". In addition, crime has risen and emigration has skyrocketed. Researchers have also shown how sanctions have an overwhelmingly greater negative medical and social impact on women, as women bear the brunt of the social and economic displacements and upheaval.
3. The response to sanctions
68. The outcry against the sanctions on Iraq has come
all sides. From within the United Nations, the Secretary-General
himself has been at the forefront of the criticism, levelling
serious charges against the sanctions regime in his report to the
Security Council of 10 March 2000 (S/2000/208) and stating two
weeks later that "the Council should seek every opportunity to
alleviate the suffering of the population, who after all are not
the intended targets of sanctions". The sanctions have led
to the resignation of three United Nations officials, two this
year alone. First, Denis Halliday, former United Nations
Assistant Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq,
resigned in September 1998, declaring: "We are in the process of
destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as
that. It is illegal and immoral." Hans von Sponeck,
Halliday's successor as Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq,
resigned on 13 February 2000, explaining that he could not any
longer be associated with a programme that prolonged the
sufferings of the people and which had no chance to meet even the
basic needs of the civilian population. Two days later,
Jutta Burghardt, head of the World Food Programme in Iraq, also
resigned, stating "I fully support what Mr. von Sponeck is
69. Both in the Security Council, the body which has supposedly provided legitimization to the sanctions regime, and in other United Nations forums, a number of countries have expressed concerns over the impact of the sanctions; they include Brazil, China, Egypt, the Republic of Korea, Kenya, France, Russia and Slovenia.
70. The sanctions have also produced an outcry from civil society. Ending the sanctions has become a focus for NGOs, human rights groups and humanitarian organizations across the world and demonstrations, petitions, lobbying campaigns and conferences have been devoted to the issue. Civil society groups have sprung up whose sole purpose is to end the sanctions and which have worked to bring together academics, activists and political leaders who share that goal. At the Commission on Human Rights, there have been a multitude of statements condemning the sanctions. Many groups have defied the embargo and brought humanitarian aid to Iraq in acts of international civil disobedience. In legal terms, this popular protest is clearly establishing the "dictates of the public conscience".
4. Iraqi sanctions and international law
71. The sanctions regime against Iraq is unequivocally illegal under existing international humanitarian law and human rights law. Some would go as far as making a charge of genocide. Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which entered into force on 12 January 1951, defines genocide as follows:
"Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily harm or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;"
72. The sanctions regime against Iraq has as its clear purpose the deliberate infliction on the Iraqi people of conditions of life (lack of adequate food, medicines, etc.) calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. It does not matter that this deliberate physical destruction has as its ostensible objective the security of the region. Once clear evidence was available that thousands of civilians were dying and that hundreds of thousands would die in the future as the Security Council continued the sanctions, the deaths were no longer an unintended side effect -- the Security Council was responsible for all known consequences of its actions. The sanctioning bodies cannot be absolved from having the "intent to destroy" the Iraqi people. The United States Ambassador to the United Nations in fact admitted this; when questioned whether the half million deaths were "worth it", she replied: "we think the price is worth it". The States imposing the sanctions could raise questions under the genocide Convention.
73. Any sanctions that are imposed as a result of war or as a part of war are regulated by the laws of armed conflict. Of course, the "six-prong test" is still applicable, but in the Iraqi case it must be interpreted in the light of established armed conflict law. The sanctions against Iraq were first imposed in the context of Iraq's military invasion of Kuwait, were maintained during the Gulf war and then were extended indefinitely after the first phase of military hostilities ended. Also, the continued air strikes by United States and United Kingdom planes qualify the situation as an armed conflict. Thus, the strict measures stipulated in international humanitarian law for the protection of civilians in armed conflict is applicable to the sanctions regime and its instigators, and violations of those laws can be prosecuted as war crimes. In this vein, reference should be made to the argument presented earlier under "Limits to sanctions in humanitarian law", especially the section on the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Particularly germane are the provisions of the Geneva Conventions allowing for exemptions for medical supplies and for goods needed for the survival of the civilian population, the prohibition in Protocol I, article 54, paragraph 1, of "starvation of civilians as a method of warfare", and the provisions relating to the protection of women and children, the two groups most injured by the sanctions regime. Finally, humanitarian law, in accordance with the Martens Clause, clearly establishes that the "dictates of the public conscience" are to be considered binding in cases where the law is not specific. The popular outcry against the sanctions, as mentioned above, constitutes these dictates, rendering the sanctions illegal.
1. The full report is available here.
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